Miracle in the making: Turris bringing awareness to local baseball league

It was last spring when Scott Tygard, president and executive director of the Miracle League of Music City, met Kyle Turris at a baseball park in Nashville.

Scott Tygard remembers the exact moment he met Kyle Turris and his family. It would be hard for him to forget.

It was last spring when Tygard, president and executive director of the Miracle League of Music City, met the hockey player, his wife and their son, Beckett, at a baseball park in Nashville.

The family, on their way to their car after Beckett’s baseball game was over, stopped when they noticed a particular booth.

“We were leaving one of the complex’s and there was a tent at the entrance, promoting this Miracle League of Music City,” recalled Turris. “They had a couple of kids and their dads there. We ended up talking to some people for a while, and it seemed like a great idea.”  

Tygard was immediately struck by the Turris’ congeniality and interest in the league.

“Kyle, Julie and Beckett stopped by our Miracle League tent last spring during the 2019 baseball season of the West Nashville Sports League (WNSL) and asked how they could help the Miracle League of Music City become a reality,” recalled Tygard, who is also the executive director of the WNSL. “From that first moment, you could tell the Turris family were genuine and down-to-earth folks.”

They were also eager to learn more about the organization whose focus is in providing a safe and enjoyable team sport experience for kids and adults with disabilities regardless of experience level or ability.

The Miracle League of Music City (there are 300 Miracle Leagues in five countries) is in the process of raising funds to construct the Miracle League Complex.

Once completed, the complex will be a fully handicap-accessible rubberized baseball field with a completed complex that features special dugouts, restrooms and playground.

This February, Tygard got in touch with Turris, asking if he was still interested in helping raise awareness and funds for the complex.

He didn’t have to wait long to get his answer.

“We reached out to Kyle and Julie to see if he could help us with our fundraising. They responded immediately, saying ‘yes.’ We created the video with Kyle as he took his valuable time in between the hockey games during his busy NHL schedule. This video was shot on February 26, right in the thick of the playoff push. Not many pro athletes would do this. Here is a NHL player in the thick of the season promoting a baseball program. This shows the true character of Kyle.”

Turris, along with other influencers including Tim and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, songwriter Ashley Gorley, Vanderbilt baseball coach Tom Corbin's wife Maggie, Senator Bill Frist, retired MLB player and 2012 Cy Young winner RA Dickey, have helped the Miracle League of Music City raise close to one million dollars of the two million dollars needed to build the sport court baseball field and playground for special needs kids in the Nashville area.

Stepping up to lend his voice and time to a worthwhile cause is nothing new for Turris.

During his time with the Ottawa Senators, he and Julie were a major presence in the community.

For five years, Kyle was honourary captain for the Capital City Condors, a hockey team for children and adults with special needs that was founded in 2008 by Jim Perkins and his wife Shana. 

Turris made a great first impression, and left a lasting one, when he met Perkins.

“Kyle is a very soft-spoken guy, a gentleman through and through,” Perkins told NHLPA.com in 2017. “He’s very engaging and he was very curious about the program. We spent about two hours at the deli that day. He just wanted to hear as much as he could about what we were all about. ‘Tell me how you got started. Tell me about the kids.’ He was very interested in every bit of it. I had a yearbook with me and I told Kyle, ‘Pick a page because we have so many stories and each one is a little miracle about the kids and the families.’ We went through a good bit of the book. And you could just tell immediately that he was beyond engaged.”

Traded to the Predators on November 5, 2017, Turris received a hero’s welcome in Ottawa when the Predators faced off against the Senators just over a week before Christmas two years ago.

The Condors held a poster at the glass that read, "Welcome Home Kyle!" Turris stopped at the spot the team was sitting at and delivered his fans and friends a few gifts.

Last spring, he was reminded of that bond with the Condors.

“When we stopped by the Miracle League tent that day, it reminded Julie and I of the work we did with the Capital City Condors. And when we found out they're raising funds to build the complex here in Nashville, and how everything catered towards people with disabilities entrances on the fields, the surface of the field, and how everything was set up it resonated with us. It makes it much easier for people to play a sport like everyone else. It made a lot of sense and something that should be done. That’s why we wanted to get involved and help out.” 

It’s just what Tygard would expect from the player helping him get the word out for the Miracle League of Music City.

“Kyle mentions that the pure joy and fun these children have when they are able to be average kids playing sports is unique and enlightening. Kyle is a great NHL player, but a better person, and the Nashville Predators should be proud of his character. The Miracle League of Music City is proud to have him helping our cause.”

Turris, over 700 games into his NHL career, is grateful to be in a position to help.

He also sees giving back as a team effort.

“Julie and I love the Condors, and we’re very close with them. They are still some of our very good friends. We can go back in the summers and get to hang out with them. To be able help the Miracle League here in Nashville is something we are happy to do. It’s a really great idea.”

For Tygard, having Turris helping to see a goal come to fruition has been an eye-opening experience.

It’s why he’s happy to sing his praises without ever being asked a question.

“Pro athletes are busy folks and most do not have time for charity work. Not Kyle Turris though.”